Imagine a world that reflects a non-traditional norm—where an entirely new representation of “family” symbolizes the current differences found in modern-day families—and you would likely find your- self at Traditional Family Values, a recent art exhibit at the University of Texas Visual Arts Center.
Traditional Family Values was a group exhibit that features the work of three artists: Arturo Agüero, Sarah Holman, and Marcella Mendez. Together, the artists created a home installation piece that “explores the makings of a chosen family, one that is born out of the necessity of moving away from home and entering independent adulthood or one that is born from the material conditions experienced as individuals.” The artists represent traditional roles, exercising nontraditional values by making use of furniture from their own homes in one collection of art.
Traditional family roles are expressed through the artists’ experiences in a non- nuclear family environment. Mendez explored the role of a child—a young boy—through female eyes and experiences. In concert with this theme, Agüero illustrated the domestic, caregiving role, while Holman personified the role of a father (her father, in fact), illustrating his stories, memories and outward manner- isms through visual and performance art.
At a time same-sex marriage is being debated across the country, and being voted on in many communities in November, this exhibit challenges the perceptions of the words “tradition” and “family,” disputes the idea that a traditional family is the only “family” that we may have throughout our lives, and argues the belief that traditional family is a precursor to a solid family. Traditional Family Values represents the composi- tion of the modern-day, nontraditional, American family as one where we naturally fall into traditional family roles. Set within the confines of a home, this art installation is indicative of modern society and changes our perception of family values.
The artists invite us into their “homes” and encourage us to embrace the shifting dynamics of the current family structure— the new face of tradition and the n e w ideals of stability, normalcy and traditional values. Some families are headed by LGBT people, while others are comprised of a group of tightly knit friends. What makes them any different from the standard of mom-dad-and-two- kids? Not very much, as it turns out.
Traditional Family Values ran through April 14 at the Visual Arts Center, College of Fine Arts, at the University of Texas. Visit www.utexas.edu/finearts for more information about each of the participating artists.